Former National MP to chair commission to replace dysfunctional Tauranga City Council

Source: 1News

Former National MP Anne Tolley will chair a group of commissioners stepping in for the Tauranga City Council, after the Government signalled it had little confidence in the body’s councillors. 

Tauranga City Council.

Tolley is joined by Stephen Selwood, former chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, Bill Wasley, a seasoned board member and independent hearing commissioner, and Shadrach Rolleston, an expert in environmental resource management and iwi-Māori engagement.

Their term will start next Tuesday and will end next year after local body elections on October 8. 

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the commissioners appointed “strikes the right balance between the significant decisions that need to be made”. 

“In appointing these commissioners, I have carefully considered the right skills and experience to deliver the long-term plan, restore public confidence in the Council, recognise the strategic growth challenges, working with iwi and develop a pathway to return the Council to an elected membership in October 2022,” Mahuta said.

Tolley, who was a Napier City Council Deputy Mayor before becoming an MP, said she wanted to return the city to full local democracy “as soon as possible”. 

Council acting chief executive Christine Jones said Tauranga City Council welcomed the appointments. 

“Staff are committed to working closely with the commissioners.”

National MP for Tauranga Simon Bridges called the appointment "shrewd". 

"I have to hand it to Labour, they are nothing if not shrewd. They know I hate a commission in Tauranga so they appoint my close colleague Anne Tolley as chair," he tweeted.

In December, Mahuta said the appointments came "in response to significant governance problems among the council's elected representatives and the findings of an independent review".

"I have grown increasingly concerned at the governance issues, and the impact this has on Tauranga ratepayers and significant investment in the region,” she said. 

"The council was given the opportunity to address the concerns, but has demonstrated that more direct action is needed.”

The council was plagued with issues including failed coups, infighting and unsavoury behaviour brought to light through a damning open records request.